Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Water sustainability not all it`s cracked up to be

11.04.2002


Sustainability may not be all it’s cracked up to be. That is the message in a recent paper by a hydrogeologist at Reading University . Michael Price argues that most human advances have been non-sustainable in the long term and that when we talk of ‘sustainable use’ we must define the period over which the use is planned or implemented.

Price identifies three major challenges currently facing Britain and the world. The first is that the climate, and with it the supply of water, is becoming less predictable. Since 1975 Great Britain has suffered four droughts, each of which has been estimated to have a return period of more than 200 years. In 2000-1, parts of England experienced some of the worst instances of flooding on record. Global climate models predict that we can expect more droughts and more periods of heavy rainfall accompanied by increased occurrences of flooding.

The second challenge is that the global demand for fresh water will increase, as population increases and the standard of living improves. It has been argued that in Britain we can counter this increased demand by metering water and making it more expensive. However, consumption of water per head of population in Britain is below that of many other developed countries where domestic water is metered. The stark truth is that demand for water is almost directly related to prosperity - as disposable income increases, water use increases.



The third fact is that concern for the environment has increased and is likely to go on increasing. This too is a reflection of increased prosperity and - for at least some of the population - increased leisure time to spend enjoying the countryside and thinking about environmental issues. Price accepts the need for some form of sustainable approach to water use to protect the environment, but concludes that
  1. Sustainability should not be seen as an end in itself. Most human advances have not been sustainable in the long term; rather, mankind has advanced by a series of unsustainable developments.

  2. It follows that when we talk of sustainability, we should define the time period over which we are measuring sustainability

  3. Resources traditionally have been exploited by the first people to need them and to have the technology to use them.

  4. Although bad planning decisions play a part, environmental problems are usually the result of a conflict of legitimate interests rather than deliberate lack of concern for environmental well being.

  5. The best ways to ensure sustainable use of water are to re-use water after abstraction and to reduce irrigated agriculture wherever possible in favour of rain-fed agriculture. The first essentially means some form of re-use of sewage effluent and will require a change in public attitude; Price argues that it is pointless to treat sewage to very high standards only to pipe it out to sea. The second will require a change in economic approach that is outside the control of hydrologists and water engineers.

  6. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we should remember that a water environment that was sustainable under one climatic regime may become unsustainable if - or when - the climate changes. Water tables will rise and fall and stream networks expand and shrink depending on the amounts of recharge. If the changes are short-term fluctuations, groundwater storage will be important in helping to ameliorate the effects on both the environment and water supplies. If the climatic changes are long-term trends, then no amount of planning or legislation will prevent the resulting changes to the environment.

Sue Rayner | alphagalileo

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Bioinvasion on the rise
15.02.2017 | Universität Konstanz

nachricht Litter Levels in the Depths of the Arctic are On the Rise
10.02.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>